HAIP Letter to John Blackwell President -BVA
10 May 2014
John Blackwell (BVSc MRCVS)
President – BVA
British Veterinary Association Date: April 22nd, 2014
7 Mansfield Street
London, W1G 9NQ
Tel: 020 7636 6541
Fax: 020 7908 6349
Subject:News published on DailyMail.co.uk with your statement by Abdul Taher and Valerie Elliott on: 22:05, 12 April 2014, updated on: 15:59, 13 April 2014
On 12th April 2014, there was news published in the Daily Mail in which you were quoted. However I looked through scientific literature and could not find any reference confirming your statements. In fact the evidences I found were contradictory to what was quoted. Could you please clarify the doubts raised below quoting references if scientifically proved:
- You were quoted as having ‘confirmed the latest scientific research on unstunned slaughter which states that animals like sheep feel excruciating pain for as long as 30 seconds after their throats are cut’. During discussions with media journalists there is generally a woefully inadequate explanation of the death process of an animal and a misrepresentation of the science available. As you will know death is a process and is not instantaneous. After slaughter the animal loses consciousness and then it loses brain function where it can be classified as ‘dead’. The time to unconsciousness always occurs before the time to loss of brain function/response. It is the time to unconsciousness that is the focus from a welfare perspective. Sheep are known to lose consciousness between 3-7 seconds (Blackmore &Newhook, 1976) a point verified by FAWC (2003) who stated that ‘the scientific evidence shows that sheep become insensible within 5-7 seconds of the cut’. Gregory & Wotton (1984) reported 14 seconds for loss of BRAIN responsiveness. Comparing ‘times to unconsciousness’ to ‘times to loss of brain function’ is like comparing apples & oranges. They represent different points of the death process and it is the time to unconsciousness that is critical from a welfare perspective. If you have evidence of sheep feeling pain for as long as 30 seconds please can you share.
- You also stated in terms of potential breaches of legislation that ‘an animal does not witness the other being killed’. You may or may not be aware that this has not been a legal requirement for some time. Please confirm if this is indeed the breach you were mentioning.
- Labelling purely for ‘stunned’ or ‘unstunned’ ignores the wider welfare issues with other husbandry procedures. Any welfare labelling system should incorporate all welfare ‘insults’ along the animal’s life so customers can make a fully informed choice. There presently exists standards such as Red Tractor, RSPCA Freedom Foods, Soil Association which allows consumers to purchase meat NOW that they know will have been stunned.
- Blackmore, D.K. &Newhook, J.C. (1976) Effects of different slaughter methods on bleeding sheep. Veterinary Record, 99, 312-316.
- FAWC (2003) Report on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing Part 1: Red Meat Animals. Farm Animal Welfare Council, London, UK.
- Gregory, N.G. & Wotton, S.B. (1984) Sheep slaughtering procedures 2. Time to loss of brain responsiveness after exsanguinations or cardiac arrest. British Veterinary Journal, 140, 354-360.
I would appreciate your response to the point I raised above.
Mohammad Amir(MSc Meat Sci& Tech, MSc Food Sci& Tech)
Note: This letter is only addressed to Mr John BlackWell – President (BVA). We are not objecting to the reasons for conducting the undercover film and this matter is between Simply Halal and Daily MailDownload PDF…